A Thundering Answer

 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”  The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

~ John 12:27-29

jesusprayingrockI have prayed and prayed. My soul, like my Lord’s, is troubled as surely as His was on that day when, still freshly arrived in Jerusalem, Phillip brought to Him two Greeks who wanted to see Him. And He told them it was time for Him to die.

That a seed must die before it can grow.

That one must hate life to save it.

That one must follow and serve Him.

My soul is troubled, because life as I knew it and wanted it to be will change in the weeks and months to come; will be overshadowed by fear and pain and death — and none of us in our family knows what those days will hold for us.

I have prayed and prayed. And, like Jesus, I don’t know what to pray for anymore. The very Son of God, God in essence talking to Himself in prayer, shared my perplexity about what to pray.

But Jesus’ answer came immediately, and it has come to me this morning. Thundering. Unnerving. Blowing me away.

“Father, glorify Your name.”

He can glorify it by taking away Angi’s pancreatic cancer and liver lesions; by completely conquering the depression that Laura has been courageously battling these many months. I understand that. It’s what I want, and what I’ve prayed for.

Yet, I also know somewhere deep within that He can also glorify His name by doing only one of those things, or neither, or something exceeding abundantly beyond all that I can ask or imagine. I don’t understand that. It’s what I’m afraid to want, and what I’m unable to pray for.

Jesus’ answer is simple: “Trust Him.”

He doesn’t need the thundering answer from His Father or through an angel; it’s for our benefit. For my benefit:

“I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

That, of course, it what must matter most.

Not because God is any less if His name is not glorified, but because we are.

Not because God will shrivel up into a powerless dry myth if His name is not made known, but that the power of His name will not be made known in order to explode the dry myth into powder.

Not because God will be blown away, but because sometimes “me” needs to be blown away, and replaced with “He.”

I write these words now while I can still write them in faith, because I know me and I know I will need to read them again later as my faith is stretched and pulled and yanked out of socket by the unseeable future. I will need to remind myself of the commitment of faith I’ve made to praise Him as the only One whose name is to be hallowed; to pray “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven;” to offer as my only plea, “Father, glorify Your name.”

I will still tell Him what I want and need and beg for in His unique love, mercy and providence.

Yet I will still need to temper my petitions with the recognition that He knows me better than I know myself; He knows what we need more accurately than we do; He knows and loves my family more dearly than I ever could.

He alone can — and will — do what will best glorify His name, to the blessing of all whom He loves.

And His grace will be sufficient.

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10 thoughts on “A Thundering Answer

  1. Two words come to my mind Keith for you – Faith Rests. I pray that you will be able to rest in the midst of this storm. And I also pray that God will visit your family, calm the waves and do what no man can do. Email me any time you want to talk and I will give you my cell number.

  2. This is my first time reading the old blogs this year, and I’m so sad to hear about how much trouble your family is having right now. I’ll be praying for your wife, your daughter, and you. Please don’t hesitate to email me or call me at the Manchester Times in Manchester, Tennessee, if there’s anything I can do for you personally. In the mean time I’ll be praying for the Brentons.

  3. Keith, just know that we love you all so much and are praying for you. Hope Laura is warmed by my note to her. Please keep us all informed. Love, Linda Smith

  4. Keith, I am riven with emotions also. I would like to pray an unrivaled prayer but can’t seem to, so I’m just going to pray the same one as you have prayed. And with there being strength in numbers, we hope for a grand effect. I miss y’all.

  5. ‘Continuing to pray for you…

    This blog post is so awesome and I am sure it will help you if days turn darker. As I read this, I kept thinking, “THIS is what ‘worship’ really means.” I.e.: Glorifying God, No Matter What. I know it’s not what you intended, but it’s what I kept seeing.

  6. Keith, it occurs to me that the words “right now” in my last comment may sound like I’m trying to minimize what you and your family are going through, but that is not the case. Whatever the outcomes may be–and I’m praying they will all be bright–what your family is facing today will of course be a part of who you are for a very long time. And I’m continuing to pray for you all.

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